privately, off camp, and not to be seen conversing in friendly fashion while at work.
Whilst seeming at first sight to be harsh, this was necessary for the prevention of
favouritism and for the maintenance of good discipline.
As a living-in Officer I was occasionally invited into the married quarters (homes) of friends. This could be awkward, for it was traditional to take some small
gift for one's hostess on such occasions. The usual thing was to go to the Mess Shop
and buy a box of 'Black Magic' or similar confectionery and take that, but the choice
Having always been handy with my hands, during my first leave I
bought several marquetry kits and a small box of necessary tools. The pictures I
made up during spare time in my room became suitable alternative gifts.
My main hobby was 8mm movie photography. Initially I had a simple camera
given to me by my father, but it wasn't long before I went to Staschen Optik (a
photography shop in Jever from where I had previously bought a radio) and traded
it in for a better model. I took many hundreds of feet of colour film but I couldn't see
the results without a projector. On another leave I bought the necessary machine as
well as a kit of basic editing equipment. I was then able to edit my creations, learning
at the same time how I could improve my techniques, and, after cutting out much
waste, I turned the resulting product into one of acceptable quality. Ron Gray
, had a similar hobby and between us we produced some amateurish
records of events at Jever. It was not unusual, after a filming and editing session, for
there to be a film show, using the wall as a screen, in either Ron's
or my room.8
Travel, off camp, was either by RAF transport when on official business, or by the use of the local Pekol bus. Pekol ran a frequent service between the camp gates
and the centre of Jever and was regularly used by all Jever personnel. It was cheap
and convenient. Some, however, had their own cars but they were in the minority.
from 4 Squadron
had a motorbike. Brian Watson
and Pete Smith
both of 4 Squadron
, owned cars, the former a Ford 'Popular'. Al Colvin
both owned old Opel Kapitšns. There was talk at one time of John
and myself buying NSU 'Quickly' mopeds but those much discussed plans
came to nothing. Brian Iles
owned not only his yellow Miles M18 private plane [Click to see
an ancient Riley 'Nine' as well. There were few private cars about in those days.
My rare visits to Wilhelmshaven were by train or in someone's car. My abiding memory of it as I approached was of a distant landscape dotted with building-site
tower cranes. Getting much closer, I saw new buildings rising out of old rubble
fields. Most of these were blocks of flats and small industrial units. A large
typewriter factory was very prominent. On nearing the centre of the town I saw
toppled circular, cone-topped, or bullet shaped, reinforced concrete air raid shelters. [Click to see.
Any houses were very small by UK pre-war standards. Private houses were not as
common as at home because most town-dwelling Germans lived in flats. There were
shops, but not that many. Annoyingly, there was no rationing and bananas were on
The old Kriegsmarine dockyard and nearly all dock buildings had either
been flattened during the war or dismantled by the Allied Powers afterwards. What
had been the dockyard was wired off and notices saying 'Eintritt Verboten' and
'Gefahr Sprengstoff' were every few yards along the boundary.10
fence there was hardly anything to be seen. One of the few town buildings which appeared to
7 The Mess shop was upstairs, across the landing from the Ladies room, and stocked a range of necessities
including cigarettes, confectionery, and toiletries.
8 The surviving results of my film making at Jever are lodged in the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon and can
usually be viewed, subject to prior appointment. They have since been video-taped. Disappointingly, apart from
one sequence, there are almost no shots of aircraft in action on account of security considerations at the time.
9 There was still rationing when I left the UK, and I hadn't seen a banana since before the war.
10 Eintritt Verboten = Entry Forbidden (keep out). Gefahr Sprengstoff = Danger Explosives. The latter notice
could be seen almost anywhere in Germany in places where live ammunition was suspected. Much that was still
around was usually in a dangerous, unstable, state.